The Week in Review
I'm adjusting my thinking about this Jazz team, just a bit. It has to do with conversations I've had with Clark, thinking about the Jazz performance last week, etc.
First of all, the Jazz pulled off a 2-3 record on their first big road trip of the year. As I wrote last week, two wins out of five equates to a decent performance. Not great. Not even good, really. But decent. Definitely not bad.
And yet, there's still a bit of a woulda coulda shoulda taste in my mouth. Despite the decent performance, it feels like the team underachieved just a bit because all three losses were winnable. All three losses included a Jazz lead in the 4th quarter.
Clark has mentioned that if the Jazz are to become this year's Phoenix (which is what we'd all hope to see), then they need to do better. They need to win these winnable games. And to do that, they need some different things happening in games. They need:
- Someone besides Hayward and Favors to break out. Seriously, two major breakthroughs should mean more than 5 more wins (pace Jazz are on now). So we need to look at Alec Burks, Trey Burke, and Enes Kanter and ask each of them: "When are you going to take a big step forward?"
- There has to be some defensive improvement. Maybe they just don't have the right guys for a decent defensive team right now ... but I still feel okay hoping/expecting some games that they can get stops when needed.
And so, looking at the upcoming week, I think it's fair to make a couple projections: first what kind of performance is indicative of the team we're seeing thus far (a team taking a smaller first step to respectability), and then what kind of performance is indicative of the team we hope to see (a team taking two or three major steps toward being a good team).
A team that's taking big steps will win two of those. That's really the benchmark for this week: Jazz should win two. I don't know if three is a fair expectation, not when the Warriors are playing as well as they are. But the Jazz should be able to win against this Thunder and Pelicans teams. So that's what I'm holding them to.
Stats of the Week
I'm calling Favors the Man of the Week. I know Hayward was epic at times, but Favors was more consistent. So Favors gets the Yucca Nod
Utah's Two All Stars
Right now, the Jazz have two players who are putting up All-Star quality production. We know who they are: Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward.
Right now there are only two guys putting up Favors' combination of scoring, rebounding, shot-blocking, and scoring efficiency: Derrick and Dwight Howard.
As for Gordo: There is not another wing in the NBA right now scoring, rebounding, and assisting the way he is—not with Hayward's efficiency.
This doesn't mean that both Favors and Hayward are the best big and wing in the NBA right now (LeBron and Anthony Davis are those two guys), but it does show that they are playing at extremely high levels that are matched by very few people.
However, the team will never get two All-Stars if it's playing .300 ball. It may not get one (even if Hayward is the best SF in the WC right now). It's sad, but reality. The rest of the guys need to step it up and the entire team needs to play some decent defense ... and then, hopefully, our two stars can start getting some of the recognition they deserve.
So step it up, people. Let's get the world talking about the Jazz. Let's make it so that even the casual fan has to say: Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors ... those guys can PLAY!